Introducing my Thrift + Vintage Spring Challenge. I’m wearing only secondhand clothing and shoes for the work days in March.
Why Thrift + Vintage?
I grew up wearing secondhand clothes but I have come to love them as an adult. My initial interest was in saving money and getting a thrill from wearing name brands for pennies on the dollar. Now I’m more interested in ethical consumption and cultivating a quirky personal style.
March is the best month to show the versatility of a wardrobe, at least with whacky Iowa weather. Day 1, March 4, started with a two-hour delay for dangerous wind chills of -30 F. By the end of the week we were above 30 F. By the end of the month we will be in shorts and sandals (50F is my personal cutoff for bare legs and sandals, but my students wear them year-round).
I know that the best consumption is no consumption at all. While my favorite jeans are Everlane, and I lust after Pyne and Smith linen dresses, any jeans purchased secondhand are better for the environment.
I also have a bit of a shoe obsession and I scroll endlessly on Modcloth. I want to prove to myself that I can still look and feel like myself with just the thrifted parts of my wardrobe.
- Vintage Land’s End white cotton sweater, $4
- Navy paisley print dress, $4
- Metallic navy Sanita wooden clogs, $8
Total to date: $16
I’m choosing to list brands throughout the month to illustrate the quality of items that can be found second hand.
I don’t have to settle- Land’s End and Sanita are brands I would be happy to buy new. Although the best part of thrifting is having access to all sorts of brands in the same spot.
- American Eagle plaid flannel, $3
- American Eagle chop crop navy chinos, $4
- Minnetonka moccasins, $2
Total to date: $25
I’ve been thrifting for so long that it’s sometimes hard to remember how much things cost. I hope you’ll forgive my accuracy error and see the big picture that thrifted clothes and shoes can be cheap!
The moccasins were purchased at a thrift shop back home where shoes are usually about $2, so that is the calculation I used.
The chop crops were a DIY job. Sometimes items found secondhand are not exactly what you would pick in the mall. These were extra-extra long, so I just chopped them off to match a more current style available at American Eagle. Usually I would take the time to make a neat hem, but I like the undone look.
Don’t get too hung up on sizing in thrift stores either. These pants are two sizes smaller than what I usually wear but with my apple shape, the low rise fits comfortably under my belly. I always wear these with a hip-length top.
It’s worth noting that my work dress code is fairly casual. Undone hems and a cropped length are just fine.
- Old Navy forest animals print dress, $2
- Minnetonka Moccasins, introduced Day 2
Total to date: $27
This is what I look like on days that I don’t get a lunch break with my friend Kate. Taking pictures of oneself is awkward. I’m trying to show off my heart braided hair but I look like I just discovered trash left on the floor.
I would have preferred to wear my high-heeled clogs with this dress but they were purchased new so they are shelved for the month. The moccasins are a bit more casual looking that I would have tried usually. I like how this challenge is making me wear clothes and combinations I don’t always consider.
- Peasant top, $3
- Wide leg trouser jeans, $4
- Gold embroidered flats, $5
Total to date: $39
- Oakridge Boys vintage t-shirt, $30 (via Found + Formed)
- Wide leg trouser jeans, introduced Day 4
- Vintage handknit cardigan, $30 (via Divine Trash Vintage)
- Moccasins, introduced Day 2
Total to date: $99
My work week was weird- I took a personal day Friday but came back on Saturday for a [very casual] professional development day.
I made it through a week for just under $100 without much planning for the cost. Let me take a minute to highlight my favorite vintage shops.
Found and Formed is an awesome brick-and-mortar in the Czech Village of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There is a wonderful restaurant and brewery (Lion Bridge, order the vegetarian burger) on one side, Sykora Bakery on the other (try a poppy seed Kolache), and the whole block is full of antique shops. Found and Formed also is active on social media and sometimes posts things for sale on their Instagram page.
Found + Formed’s Bohemian Betty event is so much fun with amazing vendors. It is held on the rural property of one of the shop owners and is so worth the trip. That is where I found this shirt that I just had to have. I thought it said 1988 (the year I was born) but it was actually 1983. I’m not to disappointed- this shirt is awesome.
Divine Trash Vintage is a little like Stitch Fix for terrible people. I love their subscription service. You fill in a survey with about your style and sizing and you receive a vintage item every month. I love their snarky commentary and get a good giggle from their styling instructions that they handwrite with every item. It is $30 each month, which is a bit spendy for thrift, but reasonable for vintage. It’s fun to look forward to surprise mail every month too. The downside is you can’t do returns, but the fun of the gamble is worth it.
I’m looking forward to next week’s outfits as the weather is slowly warming up. I will be back next Saturday to update you on the week’s looks. In the meantime, I will be posting daily on my Instagram stories.